The couple have admitted spending the money, meant for renovations at the Waimapu Marae in Tauranga, at SkyCity Casino in Auckland, Riverside Casino in Hamilton and bars around Tauranga.
There is also evidence of spending at service stations, KFC, Pizza Hut, cafes and department stores.
The bank accounts involved had about $109,000 in them, but most of that is gone.
Trustee Lance Waaka, who blew the whistle on the Harrisons, said there was only about $400 left in the accounts. The Harrisons, both 63 and sickness beneficiaries, said about $50,000 was spent removing dozens of large trees from the marae grounds and building new fences.
They admitted they had also given money to whanau members who hadn't paid it back.
The Maori Land Court judge, Stephen Clark, said in a judgment that as well as 44 Eftpos withdrawals at casinos, pubs and bars which the Harrisons had admitted, there were a number of other withdrawals warranting further investigation.
Describing it as a "pattern of criminal offending", the judge said a proper forensic inquiry was needed to ascertain the true level of the theft, and that inquiry was best carried out by police.
But Waaka said he was unsure if he would lay a complaint, as the Harrisons had already been humiliated. (1)Waimapu Marae is not the first entity to have treaty settlement cash go missing. “Bad investments and bailouts” have wiped almost half the value off Taupo tribe Tuwharetoa’s $66-million share of the “Treelord’s” treaty settlement in 2013. (2)
The previous year, Taranaki's Ngati Tama reported it lost its $14.5-million payout it received in 2003, also in “bad investments”.(3)
When Ngati Tama announced its loss, Maori entitlements commentator Morgan Godfery wrote: “Indeed, if the government knew a tribe’s settlement was close to collapsing, and did nothing, then the government would be liable for a contemporary breach of the treaty under the partnership and active protection principles.” (4)
Problems frequently arise from the meeting of large amounts of windfall cash and people in need of financial skills.
A number of deals in this current round of treaty settlements seek to repair the unintended consequences of big payments made between 1944 and 1958, and those settlements were in response to cash that disappeared after land was sold in the 19th century.
1. Couple blow Treaty money on casinos, bars, Pizza Hut and KFC, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/70709144/Couple-blow-Treaty-money-on-casinos-bars-Pizza-Hut-and-KFC
2. Bailouts, bad ventures halve Treelord cash, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8733676/Bailouts-bad-ventures-halve-Treelord-cash
3. Iwi loses most of treaty payout, http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/6753899/Iwi-loses-most-of-Treaty-payout
4. Should the government guarantee settlements? http://mauistreet.blogspot.co.nz/2012/04/should-government-guarantee-settlements.html